Saturday, October 23, 2010

Making the bad apples into something wonderful!

Owning a boat is a luxury, so why do most people complain about the work.  Paul's dad told him that to have fun you have to spend money, and boat owners spend money.  I don't mind.  Why do I like boating - freedom, that feeling of euphoria when you laugh with your friends, that feeling of being part of a group that all share the same joy, all boaters share the same difficulties in keeping their boats looking great and working properly.  

What about the friendships, everlasting, there's an instant smile that comes to one's face when you are on the water, even on the race course - you always smile at your closest rival, knowing that they are feeling the same joy as you and your crew are on the water.  That close bond between your crew, the boat, the water and the wind.  I invite people to come sailing with me all the time - first timers or old timers, why, to share my priveiege and luxury.  I think most that come out for the first time feel the same joy, wonderment, the same feeling that you are using the earth's resources without using them up.  

What about the organizations.  Some are good, some bad.  Sometimes members of a boat club lose sight of why they are members of an organization, they are there to all share in the joy of boating, the joy of meeting new people, the joy of laughing.  People tend to forget that we are only here, in this existence for a very short time.  They forget to live, to laugh and to forgive.  They forget to tolerate and they forget to laugh.  They forget to take their boats off the dock and feel the wind in their hair, feel the cool dampness after being on the water on a cool fall day with the drizzle, the clouds and the waves.  I think they forget the feeling of anticipation of putting the boat back in the water and reconnecting with friends you lost touch with over the winter during your hibernation.

Boaters forget we all share a common love, being outside, being on the water, and having a good time.  I would hope that someday they can regain that sense of being human and living and inviting more people out sailing with them to share their joy and forget the bad stuff that our short lives throw at us.  It's worth the time and money to me to have a place where I can forget about all the bad stuff, out there on the water, waiting for the 5 minute gun before the start of the race.  To forget about politics as we cast off, wondering what sails would be appropriate for the possible front approaching, to forget about reality as we search for that lost sailing glove or wrestle with a knot in a halyard.  It's more fun to stress over a perfect spinnaker gybe then what your neighbours are up to, or what you believe your fellow human beings should or should not be doing, in your opinion.

I'm sure my thoughts are same in any type of organization, sometimes we all need to step back and sort through the bad apples because I'm absolutely certain there are many more good apples in the basket then bad apples, and it's easy to take the bad apples and turn them into something outstanding - all they need is a little reminder once in a while.


Speaking of apples - IT'S CRAB APPLE SEASON
So I raided the neighbour's lawn and here's my crab apple jelly recipe:

A basket of crab apples, washed, stemmed, debugged and quartered
A handful of vanilla sugar or Splenda
2 whole star anise
1 pkg liquid pectin or 4 tbsp. powdered pectin

Put quartered apples in large stock pot, sprinkle with sugar and toss in the star anise.  Cover with water, just until the apples begin to float.  Cook on high for approximately 10-20 minutes, until apples have completely broken down.

Pour the liquid through a sieve or a large strainer lined with cheese cloth and let sit a couple of hours.  

Pour the liquid back into the stock pot and reduce the liquid by 1/4.  Add pectin and cook a further 10 to 15 minutes until the liquid begins to thicken.  Pour into jars and let cool with the lids off.  Can be stored in the fridge for quite a while (how's that for accuracy) and eat with any kind of game meats, poultry, on toast or right out of the jar with a spoon.

HINT:  if the liquid seems a tad bitter, add some vanilla and a touch more sugar or Splenda to balance the bitterness.  Crab Apple jelly should be a bit sour with a hint of bitterness which comes from the skin of the apple.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Was able to go sailing yesterday afternoon - Wednesday.  Would be my usual race night but racing is over until next May.  It was cloudy out, but there was probably about 10 knots of wind out of the South East.  We fired up the motor and took off for a couple of hours.  

The lake was amazing.  There were pockets of rain over the lake as well as on land.  We were able to sail around the rain.  It's pretty cool to be able to see the cloud cover low over the lake and see those rain squalls march by on their journey into oblivion.  A large powerboat pulled out of Port Credit Yacht Club and we watched him disappear into one of those squalls over the horizon.  The sound of the water rushing by the boat covered the sound of their motor and the rush hour traffic noise and we didn't need to talk, just exist.

To the west there was a small break in the clouds and we glimpsed some red sky as the sun tired to bring some warmth to the earth.  I sat on the low side staring out across the lake.  We could have been almost anywhere sailing.  The dark choppy water and the rain obscuring the south shore.   The English Channel, the Southern Ocean?

The cold started to catch up to us and we gybed and headed in.  There was only one other boat out on the lake and it was heaven with all that space - all that quiet!

Now, I'm sitting on my couch thinking about making my mom's butter tarts today, seems like a good day for that.  The great Canadian treat, everyone has their own recipe they love but I'll share my mom's recipe (I don't think she will mind).

1           Egg
1 cup    Brown Sugar
1 tsp.    Vanilla
Pinch     Salt
1           Nob of butter
2 tbsp.   Milk
Beat all together and add 2 tbsp. milk.  Put about 5 layers of filo pastry in a muffin tin, brushing each layer with melted butter.  Fill and seal the tart at the top by twisting the pastry.  Bake at 450 until filling is dark.

You can do the tarts using regular pastry but I find that the pastry for most butter tarts is too thick and tasteless and a waste of calories.  I mean if you are going to eat that many calories - please people - make it worth it!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Birthday, Sailing and Dinner

So yesterday was my birthday - 39...not much to say about that.

Yesterday was also the Last Blast - the final distance race of the year.  We've been trying to finish that race for the past 9 years.  One year we broke off the rudder, thank goodness my dad was with us...  One year we ripped the storm jib, yes the storm jib and the wind indicator blew off the top of the mast.  2 years in a row we decided to go to Canada's Wonderland instead and ride the coasters. Finally, yesterday, we were able to finish the race.

The day started cold, cloudy, windless and with a birthday candle in a butter tart from the gang.  With Paul on the helm, we screwed up the start and tacked BACK over the line.  After a few "words", we tacked out into the Lake, well away from the fleet, who all decided to go near shore.  The wind was blowing about 10 knots out of the east, creating those stupid little waves really close together.  Then the drizzle started - that unending drizzle.  There weren't too many boats on the lake and that was bliss - total bliss - all that space.

After 12 tacks to the mark at the Toronto Islands we managed to catch and pass the entire fleet except for the Catalina 29 or maybe it's a 34 - California Girl and that new boat Brayden owns - some sort of futuristic rocketship with an ungodly PHRF of 52.  No catching that guy.

Batteries were dead in the GPS so we sailed old school - with the compass and a pair of binoculars. As we were rounding the mark the wind died, I mean died.  The Lake was flat and we could watch the rain slam into the glossy surface as we sat there, drinking our coffee flavoured rum trying to warm up.

The wind sort of picked up out of the south so we put up the spinnaker and watched the knot metre climb to a whopping 2.34 knots of speed.  Then the wind kept swinging around to the north and we had to sort of jibe the spinnaker then out of pure - "forget it", we took it down and hoisted the headsail.  For 2 hours the wind would pick up, swing around to the south, drop swing to the West, drop - for 2 loooong hours.  However, after 5 hours and 30 some odd minutes - we crossed the finish line in 2nd place! 

We dragged our cold wet bodies home for hot showers.  Paul was taking me out for dinner at the best sushi/Japanese restaurant in Toronto - KAJI.  They are in an unassuming little hole in the wall on the Queensway, beside a massage parlour.  The chef has fresh fish flown in from Japan and other parts of the planet on a daily basis.  He also has ingredients from Japan you can't get here, fresh herbs, sakes and spices.

There were three menu choices, I chose the most expensive and Paul chose the 2nd most expensive.  We sat at the sushi bar and watched Chef Kaji and his underlings work their magic.  My meal was 10 courses, Paul's was 7 courses.  The courses that stood out most for me were the seared scallop with green peppercorns, the fresh water BBQ'd eel, lobster with fresh apple and the 3 kinds of tuna sushi.  Then there was the fresh water trout baked in salt, the steamed sea breem with chestnut puree and the sashimi - ohhhhh the sashimi.  Each plate was exquisitely presented, everything from a sort of cerviche served in a hollowed out gourd to the fragrant pine broth served in a Japanese tea pot.  In by 8 pm - out by 11 pm.  Thanks Paul - great day, great race, great food and best of all, great company!  And the rain finally stopped.